In the fifth episode we’ll approach the reality that concerns logistics. It’s a reality through which the digitization can do and give a lot in order to improve productivity, flow speed and the improvement of the quality of the products.

Resume of the previous episodes

We started knowing in depth (digitizing) the performances of our machine, by installing a PLC and HMI workplaces. We split the machine efficiency in three crucial KPIs (machine breakdowns, flow speed and scraps). We then shot a picture of the status of the things, receiving good news and bad ones.

It’s in the bad ones that we can intervene, as the improvement margin hides right there.

We started from the machine breakdowns with the Machine Ledger 4.0, continuing with a solution that supports the operators in order to improve their workflow and performances, the Visual SOP.

We then saw some solutions dedicated to improve the quality of the products, such as the Pick to Light and the Vibco, which are very different from one another, as the first one is used to limit the operator’s errors, with the second one having the task of determining the quality of a specific product in a “scientific” way.

The last part of the process. From the line to the warehouse: Kanban and Warehouse Management System.

Both Kanban and WMS are modules that travel together: the first one is useful to manage the supplying of the production lines with the necessary resources, while the other one is useful to manage the warehouse where those resources are stocked, waiting to be picked for future use.

Those two solutions have impact both on the quality KPI and performance one..

Too many times we’re constricted to stop the flow as there’s a lack of the necessary resources to assemble or use, so we have a loss in performances. Likewise, another loss regards the quality; in case I use a wrong resource, I may cause damage to the final product (ex. a wrong screw, lack of a washer etc.).

The Kanban

Kanban is a Just in Time system tool that is used to reintegrate the supplies of the various process phases, just whenever it’s needed.

This system allows to monitor the supplying flow in real time, avoiding the cumulation of resources in the warehouse, together with their costs, unexpected events and mistakes that may come with them.

This system exists since a lot of time in the industrial world, as it’s not (originally) a digital solution. A system like the digital Kanban is able to handle the various supplying trains with more efficiency so that the resources are moved just whenever it’s needed and with the correct quantities. All of this can happen in a totally automatic way.


The main objective can be summarized in three points:

  • reduction of stocks
  • elimination of dead times
  • simplification of the various procedures

The benefits are huge:

  • It significantly reduces the inventory and improves the accuracy of the management
  • Allows us to provide quick responses to the various changes in demand
  • Simplifies production scheduling

How does all of this happen?

Everything happens through an Ad-Hoc interface where the operator can handle the various maintenances: schedule or re-schedule an activity.

The system takes information straight from the ERP.

In this way we avoid waste and preserve the environment as we’re just using what is needed when it’s needed, without filling the warehouse in a senseless expensive way.

The Warehouse Management System

It’s a system dedicated to the warehouse management and goods handling.

We’re talking about a solution that is strictly integrated with the Kanban, which allows to keep the quantity and location of the various resources under control in live time.

The objectives of a digital WMS solution can be summarized as follows:

  • Reduce the warehouse volume
  • Increase labor productivity
  • Improve the accuracy of the shipments
  • Increase the percentage of correct orders
  • Reduce direct operating costs
  • Improve the availability of the raw materials
  • Optimize the management of the Raw Materials Warehouse

The advantages are very important:

  • Viewing the progress of the withdrawals in real time
  • View the status of assigned tasks
  • Ability to define deposit and withdrawal policies in the warehouse
  • Access to historical data with the possibility of comparisons and statistics
  • Improvement of the operator performance
  • Security improvement/li>

This module has different referents, and provides different functions and interfaces depending on the user.

The recipients may vary depending on the different needs:

  • Quality office
  • Warehouse key user
  • Warehouse forklift driver

The module dedicated to the quality office and warehouse key user will be in charge of handling the warehouse stocks, the register of the movements and lock/unlock the goods with its related locations.

The module dedicated to the forklift driver will provide the acceptance of the inbound goods, the transfer of stock between different locations and the reissue of the pallet stickers.


Kanban module
WMS Module

We will definitely continue this digitization process in the following episode. Stay tuned!

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<- What it means to digitize processes: Pt.4
What it means to digitize processes: Pt.6 ->